The Islamic Republic, whose survival nobody would have betted on, still lives on. No matter what John Bolton predicted last year – “the Islamic Republic will not last until its 40th birthday” – or what common sense suggested in the early days of the revolution, when very few people thought it would have lasted more than six months.
Of the many challenges that Iran has faced over the 40 years since the 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah and established the Islamic Republic, one was dead on arrival: the impossible fight against time by the generation who fought the revolution. Four decades later, of that circle of combatant clergy fewer and fewer members are still alive and in power.
On 11 February 2019, the Islamic Republic will celebrate forty years of political life in Iran. It has been the first experience of a modern Islamic State in the world. In other words, the rise of the Islamic Republic in Iran could be seen as the first political experience in institutionalisation of political Islam.